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View Full Version : We're all beginners, always.



Storyfixer
06-10-2009, 06:17 PM
Always something to learn. Hey, baseball has spring training, football has pre-season camp, etc. That's because you always benefit from a return to the basics. In writing, beginners can be every bit as good as the big names, so don't get intimidated. Write it boldly, proudly and passionately! Just be sure to keep one eye on the basics, always.

Larry
www.storyfix.com (http://www.storyfix.com)

Lisa Cox
06-10-2009, 06:21 PM
Well said.

Wayne K
06-10-2009, 06:35 PM
What were the basics again?:D

aadams73
06-10-2009, 07:05 PM
I think we should strive to learn something new everyday, too.

aadams73
06-10-2009, 07:05 PM
What were the basics again?:D

Hold the crayon between your thumb and finger. :D

quickWit
06-10-2009, 07:22 PM
Hold the crayon between your thumb and finger. :D

Oh, that's offensive. :)

aadams73
06-10-2009, 07:25 PM
It wasn't meant to be. I'm sitting here writing in crayon; aren't you? :D

And speaking of the basics: I think we need to seriously buckle down and perfect those. I know I need a regular grammar refresher.

underthecity
06-10-2009, 07:33 PM
Not only grammar, but punctuation. Although I've written quite a bit, I still screw up where to put commas sometimes. I'm usually good at remembering to put a period at the end of a sentence, though

CaroGirl
06-10-2009, 08:08 PM
You're not a beginner when the basics of grammar and punctuation are second nature. At the very least if you're able to catch it all in a second draft.

Why work so hard to make those basics second nature if you're going to be told you're always a beginner? It's good to remember that even a seasoned pro can make a careless error, however that does not make her a beginner.

aadams73
06-10-2009, 08:30 PM
You're not a beginner when the basics of grammar and punctuation are second nature. At the very least if you're able to catch it all in a second draft.



A valid point. I can--and do--catch them in a second draft.

underthecity
06-10-2009, 08:57 PM
I expect to see grammar and punctuation issues in my first drafts.

But by now, I don't think I'm a beginner anymore.

Soccer Mom
06-10-2009, 10:28 PM
I think there is a big difference in being a beginner and needing refreshers. Those pro players at spring training? Not beginners. Some of them have been at it for 10-15 years as a paid professional. Not beginners.

Do we all need refreshers and a return to fundamentals from time to time? Yes.

But that doesn't make us beginners.

Pagey's_Girl
06-11-2009, 02:32 AM
In a way, you're always a beginner at something, even if you've been doing what you do for many years. There are always new techniques to try, new approaches, new ideas, new technologies (although that probably doesn't apply to actually writing so much - not until someone makes practical that mind-reading typewriter from The Tommyknockers.) There are always opportunities to learn and grow.

Chauchat Butterfly
06-11-2009, 03:03 AM
I think we should strive to learn something new everyday, too.

I am endeavoring to learn everything I possibly can. Everything.

Matera the Mad
06-11-2009, 06:13 AM
I am proud to say that there is at least one lousy little word I can never remember how to spell.

The basics? Oh that's those things we keep stumbling over. The bedrock, exposed now and then as our illusions erode. :D

The Lonely One
06-11-2009, 06:47 AM
I don't mean to sound harsh but this kind of sounds like some self-help seminar rhetoric and I simply don't buy the concept.

There's always room for improvement and no one is too good to learn, but a beginner is not on the same field as someone who's spent years mastering their art. That kind of nonsense is the reason there's so much slush out there, on the internet, filling agents' mailboxes, etc.

This idea that anyone can write a good story regardless of their skillset is degrading to those who have put blood, sweat and tears into their craft. Just because you can't detect an amateur writer quite as quickly as you would an amateur painter or musician doesn't mean it's okay for a beginning writer to traipse on the scene and act like they're owed something.

I believe that some parents are misleading their children with this old adage, which I've edited for accuracy for their benefit:

You can be anything you want when you grow up.

If you fucking work for it.

wannawrite
06-11-2009, 07:09 AM
This is sort of an amusing thread to me, 'cause I clicked onto it, hoping to learn something. Glad to know I'm not the only one that keeps running back to the primer. Right now, sitting beside me, literally at my elbow so that I can look at it during my editing, I have a big list of stuff I've heard back from various editors on.

Too much exposition
Watch the ellipses (they are apparently evil little bastards)
strictly limit dialogue tags
no adverbs (they are the devil, I have come to understand)
show, don't tell (but do so with very little exposition, and no adverbs. Or dialogue tags. Huh?)

I used to just write. Now I am trying to write well. Growing up sucks.

electric violet
06-11-2009, 07:31 AM
I don't mean to sound harsh but this kind of sounds like some self-help seminar rhetoric and I simply don't buy the concept.

There's always room for improvement and no one is too good to learn, but a beginner is not on the same field as someone who's spent years mastering their art. That kind of nonsense is the reason there's so much slush out there, on the internet, filling agents' mailboxes, etc.

This idea that anyone can write a good story regardless of their skillset is degrading to those who have put blood, sweat and tears into their craft. Just because you can't detect an amateur writer quite as quickly as you would an amateur painter or musician doesn't mean it's okay for a beginning writer to traipse on the scene and act like they're owed something.

I believe that some parents are misleading their children with this old adage, which I've edited for accuracy for their benefit:

You can be anything you want when you grow up.

If you fucking work for it.

I'm pretty sure the entire point of this post wasn't to give false hope to people. However, it did give good and enlightening support-advice for when you come across someone who puts people in different 'fields.' The point was that the term 'beginner' really is in the eye of the beholder. It is clear you have very specific ideas as to what a beginner is, but not everybody thinks that way.

If you are someone who feels like a master of the craft and is actually offended or annoyed when a petty 'beginner' slushes up the agent's boxes, then I feel like you may have some learning of your own to do of things that some would consider to be 'second nature'. You actually used the phrase "doesn't mean it's okay for a beginning writer to traipse on the scene and act like they're owed something." Who are you to say what's okay and what's not? Also, no one here is acting like they are owed anything except for the sought after feeling of self confidence and okay with their own writing. You're lucky for obviously having that, but not everyone is has that black-and-white-super-logic. There are many people that live off of their drive and emotions, no matter how much you think they should not. You were there once, and if you were just a prodigy from day one that accepted that some things were okay to learn while other things needed to be second nature, good for you. Cookie.

As a major 'beginner' that oh-so-stupidly sent out many drafts of my first (and HORRIBLE) query letter to all different agents and slushing up all those piles, (how dare I?! As if I had a shot!!) I am happy to say that that crappy 'beginner non-second nature' life was mine once. I'm happy to say it because without it, I never would have gotten as far as I have.

Not trying to offend you, I just really disagreed with how you presented that point. It has nothing to do with cuddling the oh-so-poor little writer babies and hiding them from the big bad storm. It's to tell them that it's okay to go out and face it on their own, no matter how many 'mistakes' they may be making. Encouragement.

I mean, there's a thread not too many down from this one called 'When to quit.' We're hardly a site of rainbows and unicorns.

Salis
06-11-2009, 08:07 AM
This is sort of an amusing thread to me, 'cause I clicked onto it, hoping to learn something. Glad to know I'm not the only one that keeps running back to the primer. Right now, sitting beside me, literally at my elbow so that I can look at it during my editing, I have a big list of stuff I've heard back from various editors on.

Too much exposition
Watch the ellipses (they are apparently evil little bastards)
strictly limit dialogue tags
no adverbs (they are the devil, I have come to understand)
show, don't tell (but do so with very little exposition, and no adverbs. Or dialogue tags. Huh?)

I used to just write. Now I am trying to write well. Growing up sucks.

This makes me laugh because there are so many, many, many published books (some of them legendary) that don't adhere to any of this, or do so very loosely.

It really just makes me think of... beware of people who are very keen to justify their job.

seun
06-11-2009, 02:14 PM
Agreed there's always something to learn. Disagree we're all always beginners.

The Lonely One
06-11-2009, 07:02 PM
Woah. Okay. You've made a few assumptions about me here. In turn I may have made a few about what the poster was trying to say. Let me clear the air.


I'm pretty sure the entire point of this post wasn't to give false hope to people. However, it did give good and enlightening support-advice for when you come across someone who puts people in different 'fields.' The point was that the term 'beginner' really is in the eye of the beholder. It is clear you have very specific ideas as to what a beginner is, but not everybody thinks that way.

Is beginner that subjective of a term? I think beginner implies you are learning the basics of a craft, which means you're not yet at a professional level. Basics in writing are fairly well established. Beginner simply means you're 'new' to something. I think the terminology used is where I began to disagree with the poster. (Will explain in a sec.)


If you are someone who feels like a master of the craft and is actually offended or annoyed when a petty 'beginner' slushes up the agent's boxes, then I feel like you may have some learning of your own to do of things that some would consider to be 'second nature'. You actually used the phrase "doesn't mean it's okay for a beginning writer to traipse on the scene and act like they're owed something." Who are you to say what's okay and what's not?

This isn't a presentation of fact. This is my opinion. I only think beginning writers should be aware they have a long road ahead of them and not expect instant gratification. I don't feel my opinion is more valid than anyone else's, but I certainly don't mind stating it.


Also, no one here is acting like they are owed anything except for the sought after feeling of self confidence and okay with their own writing.

my statements weren't directed at AW users. They're some of the brightest and most well informed writers around, I think. And if not, they quickly become so after joining. AW is a wonderful resource that is proof that writing is all about the labor of love (or is it love of labor? :)). Self confidence and self entitlement are quite different things. Confidence is great and I think everyone aught to be confident when pursuing something they're passionate about.


You're lucky for obviously having that, but not everyone is has that black-and-white-super-logic. There are many people that live off of their drive and emotions, no matter how much you think they should not. You were there once, and if you were just a prodigy from day one that accepted that some things were okay to learn while other things needed to be second nature, good for you. Cookie.

I do think emotion and drive are good. Emotion and drive and foresight are better. I am no prodigy, believe me, but thank you for the cookie. Sweet tooth here.

Also, I consider myself more or less a beginner. I never said anything with the intention of looking down on beginners. I just felt the statement that a beginner is as good as an expert just because they learn the basics is ridiculous. I don't purport to be on that level, and I know I have a long lonely (mostly) road ahead of me like everyone else. I'm okay with it, and I'm realistic about it. I know when I've written something that could be published, technically speaking, and I know when I've written something sub-par.


As a major 'beginner' that oh-so-stupidly sent out many drafts of my first (and HORRIBLE) query letter to all different agents and slushing up all those piles, (how dare I?! As if I had a shot!!) I am happy to say that that crappy 'beginner non-second nature' life was mine once. I'm happy to say it because without it, I never would have gotten as far as I have.

Not trying to offend you, I just really disagreed with how you presented that point. It has nothing to do with cuddling the oh-so-poor little writer babies and hiding them from the big bad storm. It's to tell them that it's okay to go out and face it on their own, no matter how many 'mistakes' they may be making. Encouragement.

I don't think it's stupid for a beginner to try. I do think it's wrong to pander false hope that is the equivalent of telling a piano student that's two weeks into lessons they aught to play live, because as long as they know chopsticks they can be as good as Mozart. That's what I thought the thread was getting at. Too often is really hard work, the backbone of any goal, forgotten IMO.


I mean, there's a thread not too many down from this one called 'When to quit.' We're hardly a site of rainbows and unicorns.

My comment was not a reflection of the site. But I am weary of threads like this, my reasoning already stated.

I will say, I agree with the poster that going back to the basics is important. And forgive me for being harsh; perhaps I read something into the thread that wasn't there.

My previous post was hasty at best.

scope
06-11-2009, 10:15 PM
Beginner or seasoned pro?

I also believe there is a difference, as already mentioned by some. At , times I think the difference can be pronounced, depending upon the seasoned writer's experience with the business side of the business and his or her necessity to deal with a variety of issues. This is not the same as saying that all experienced writers intrinsically write better stories than beginners -- newbies, although most often I find that they do. But, isn't that a fairly logical universal conclusion (of course there are always a few exception)

I've been an AW member for about one year. During that time, I've noticed that discussions about the BUSINESS side of the publishing business, as it affects our work before , during, or after writing, are rather rare, and that beginners not only shy away from same, but seem to know little about this critical aspect of the business. I don't know why, because in the end, the publishing business is like any business. It exists to make a profit. No profit -- no product -- no company. So in this sense we can say it's like any other type of business -- a pizza parlor, a department store, whatever. Really, the only difference is the end product and its potential to influence or teach others. And, if it's a book, it can only do this if it gets into the marketplace and gains some sort of recognition. Publishers merchandise books, but in addition, we as writers have to do all we can to bring recognition to the book and try and increase sales. Most seasoned pros know this, talk to their agents and/or editors about this, while it seems to be the farthest thing from the mind of a beginning writer -- and it's not that they haven't been told or forewarned of this. Agreed, beginners must write a manuscript, a query letter, a synopsis, and perhaps a proposal, but none of these items should to written void of knowledge about the business side of publishing.

electric violet
06-12-2009, 03:11 AM
Woah. Okay. You've made a few assumptions about me here. In turn I may have made a few about what the poster was trying to say. Let me clear the air.



Is beginner that subjective of a term? I think beginner implies you are learning the basics of a craft, which means you're not yet at a professional level. Basics in writing are fairly well established. Beginner simply means you're 'new' to something. I think the terminology used is where I began to disagree with the poster. (Will explain in a sec.)



This isn't a presentation of fact. This is my opinion. I only think beginning writers should be aware they have a long road ahead of them and not expect instant gratification. I don't feel my opinion is more valid than anyone else's, but I certainly don't mind stating it.



my statements weren't directed at AW users. They're some of the brightest and most well informed writers around, I think. And if not, they quickly become so after joining. AW is a wonderful resource that is proof that writing is all about the labor of love (or is it love of labor? :)). Self confidence and self entitlement are quite different things. Confidence is great and I think everyone aught to be confident when pursuing something they're passionate about.



I do think emotion and drive are good. Emotion and drive and foresight are better. I am no prodigy, believe me, but thank you for the cookie. Sweet tooth here.

Also, I consider myself more or less a beginner. I never said anything with the intention of looking down on beginners. I just felt the statement that a beginner is as good as an expert just because they learn the basics is ridiculous. I don't purport to be on that level, and I know I have a long lonely (mostly) road ahead of me like everyone else. I'm okay with it, and I'm realistic about it. I know when I've written something that could be published, technically speaking, and I know when I've written something sub-par.



I don't think it's stupid for a beginner to try. I do think it's wrong to pander false hope that is the equivalent of telling a piano student that's two weeks into lessons they aught to play live, because as long as they know chopsticks they can be as good as Mozart. That's what I thought the thread was getting at. Too often is really hard work, the backbone of any goal, forgotten IMO.



My comment was not a reflection of the site. But I am weary of threads like this, my reasoning already stated.

I will say, I agree with the poster that going back to the basics is important. And forgive me for being harsh; perhaps I read something into the thread that wasn't there.

My previous post was hasty at best.

This was explained waaaay better than the other post. Hurray! Cookies for everyone! :)

motormind
06-12-2009, 06:01 PM
What were the basics again?:D

Something about putting strings of words on paper, I guess :poke:

Bookdragonette
06-12-2009, 07:41 PM
What were the basics again?:D


Something about putting strings of words on paper, I guess :poke:

Something about learning to read. I dunno, I slept through those classes. :e2zzz: